Category Archives: Learning To Pray Effectively

Pray Humbly and Wholeheartedly for Personal Repentance

For those of us who wish to truly submit to Yeshua and follow him, we must be willing to humbly admit our faults in order to change them. Yeshua provides a wonderful example of a sinful man who genuinely comes before YHWH for repentance and contrasts that with someone who is praying in a noticeably prideful manner. I encourage each of us to thoughtfully and humbly read the scripture from Luke and then come before our father in genuine humility, admitting our sins, and ask for genuine forgiveness with wholehearted commitment to repent and sin no more.

Luke 18:9-14

9And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11“The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14“I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

All of us remain sinful, no matter where we are in our journey. Take time to identify an area in which you need change and come before YHWH with pure motive and pure heart, privately, and ask forgiveness and ask his help with repentance. Then work consciously to change your wrong behavior and he will help you. Avoid the trap of just asking forgiveness and then continuing in your sin, without repentance and change on your part. If you refuse to change, that is not true repentance and acknowledgment that you are wrong. There is a distinction between having difficulty changing and refusing to change or not trying. Often we will need his help to change our ways as it is difficult for us.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Let Me Know Your Ways

Our prayers and conversations with YHWH do not have to be complicated. We do not get “bonus points” for large words. We do best when we simply set our hearts to trust in Him and talk with Him as we would a Father whom we love and respect.

For the full context of Exodus 33:13, click the link and read the full chapter. I am focusing on a particular verse for today’s consideration.

Exodus 33:13

13“Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight.

What a wonderful and simple prayer from Moses. Let us not be afraid to ask the Lord for His help so that we may know His ways and know Him. Why? So we can be rich or happy? No. So we might find more favor in His sight. In our relationship with Him then we find peace and joy and hope.

When is the last time your prayer was focused on asking the Lord to help you know His ways and know Him more so as to find favor in His sight? If you consider the full context of the scripture you will also see that Moses was not just talking the whole time. He allowed time for the Lord to speak and for him to listen. A good way to invest our time for which most of us need more practice.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Speak, For Your Servant Is Listening

Samuel was a great prophet of the Lord. What can we learn from how he connected with the Lord when he was still a child?

  • He listened to the advice of one elder than himself, even though that person was far from perfect.
  • He responded to YHWH’s call with utmost simplicity… no complicated prayer needed. “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
  • Then… he did something amazing that most of us don’t do… he stopped talking to YHWH and started listening.
  • He shared the word that the Lord gave him even though he was scared to do so.

We should do likewise.

1 Samuel 3:1-14

The Prophetic Call to Samuel

     1Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent.

      2It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well), 3and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was, 4that the LORD called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am.” 5Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6The LORD called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he answered, “I did not call, my son, lie down again.” 7Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor had the word of the LORD yet been revealed to him. 8So the LORD called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli discerned that the LORD was calling the boy. 9And Eli said to Samuel, “Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

      10Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 11The LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12“In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13“For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. 14“Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

      15So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16Then Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” 17He said, “What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the words that He spoke to you.” 18So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD; let Him do what seems good to Him.”

      19Thus Samuel grew and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fail. 20All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD. 21And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, because the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Create In Me A Clean Heart, O’ God

We are all sinners in need of grace and forgiveness. Let us humble ourselves before the Lord and repent and He will make us clean again.

Psalm 51

A Contrite Sinner’s Prayer for Pardon.

For the choir director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

     1Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.

2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.

3For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.

4Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.

5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.

6Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.

7Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

9Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.

10Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.

13Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.

14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation;
Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.

15O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Your praise.

16For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.

17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

18By Your favor do good to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.

19Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices,
In burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then young bulls will be offered on Your altar.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Reflecting On Our Attitude Toward the LORD

The writer of Ecclesiastes, commonly accepted as Solomon, has much wisdom to share. We do well to take our time and digest it fully rather than quickly scan over it in our hurry to get on with our day. In chapter 5, he addresses several elements of our attitude toward YHWH.

If we reflect on his first example, we probably realize we have a lot to learn and change in our walk with YHWH. Typically today most of us come to YHWH with a list of things we want to talk to him about or ask for him to help us. We often jump right in. Solomon cautions us to remember who is the LORD and who is the servant. Let us approach the LORD with an attitude to listen and learn, to submit and obey. Let us take care to have few words and listen more.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-9

Your Attitude Toward God

     1Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. 2Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. 3For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.

      4When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! 5It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 7For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God.

      8If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them. 9After all, a king who cultivates the field is an advantage to the land.

I definitely would do well to put more focus on listening to my LORD before even asking him for those things with which I am seeking his help.

The second matter is also very important. We should be careful in making vows to the LORD and if we do, we should fulfill them. We should not make excuses. We should take care and fear YHWH. Their is often a tendency to overlook this instruction in the Bible. We tend to characterize YHWH as “love” as if that means we should not revere and in some ways fear him. We should recognize and respect that he is the one who is over our life and our life after death. We should take seriously the desire to please him as a loyal servant would their master.

Verses 8-9 are interesting. I need to dig a little deeper to fully chase that meaning. That is one thing I love about God’s written word… there is always more depth we can search for (like treasure) if we have the will to do so!

My first impression leans into a comparison of the LORD as the king. It is good to have the king who desires to cultivate the land, to be involved in our lives. However, there are clearly examples of oppression and denial of justice because of the people who have authority under him in certain areas. Witnessing unrighteousness does not mean there is not a righteous LORD who is in charge of all. It simply means that there are some wicked people who do not truly submit to and follow him.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Prayer of Jabez

Almost buried in a section of historical family lineage in 1 Chronicles is a brief excerpt, limited to two verses, about a man named Jabez for whom God answered his prayer. Like so many parts of scripture, it is waiting for us to find it and explore the depths of God’s word, like buried treasure.

It is worthwhile to pause and reflect on these verses.

1 Chronicles:9-10

9Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, “Because I bore him with pain.” 10Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.

Quite some time ago, someone wrote a book about “the prayer of Jabez” and people got almost in a craze about it. The problem is that many focused on only his prayer. They wanted to turn it into some formula whereby if anyone repeats the words they force God to bless them also. However, this is not how a relationship with the Lord works. We don’t control Him. We don’t get His power by rehearsing specific words like some sort of spell.

Matthew 6:7-8

     7“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8“So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

The prayer of Jabez was an honorable prayer. He asked for God’s blessing and asked for God’s protection from harm. These are good things to pray for. Let us also take care not to overlook that he also asked for God’s hand to be with Him and he was honorable in his life.

Jabez was not simply asking for more land and less pain, but also for a relationship with God and living his life in accordance with what God directed.

The path to living with the peace and joy of the Lord is one of submitting to him and building relationship with him. You can not and should not try to skip the relationship with God in pursuit of controlling him to give you the outcomes you want. As you build relationship with him, you will also discover that the relationship is the real treasure… that his hand would be with us.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Spiritual Warfare – The Battle Is Real

The most basic rule of warfare is perhaps that if you don’t realize or accept there is an enemy moving against you, you will most probably lose. If you don’t fight back with an effective strategy, you will lose even if you take on the enemy. If you don’t properly identify your enemy, you will develop the wrong strategy.

In Ephesians 6:10-18 Paul provides us important guidance about the reality of spiritual warfare.  Too often Christians dismiss spiritual warfare and focus only on the things we can see and touch. This leaves us vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. If we do not recognize the true enemy, we will struggle to win against him.

Ephesians 6:10-18

      10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

      18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Some key points upon which to reflect:

  • Our strength comes from the Lord, not ourselves
  • The devil is real and he has strategies he uses to lie, cheat and destroy. He will use more than one strategy against us.
  • Warfare does not always take place in physical world, sometimes it is in the spiritual world. Consider the book of Job.
  • Just putting on one or two pieces of the armor of God is not enough, we need to put on all of them.
  • Prayer and a relationship with Jesus is necessary! Jesus tells us to pray daily and to pray specifically to not let us yield to temptation, and to be rescued from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13
  • We are to stay alert and pray for others in addition to ourselves. Pray for those preach the gospel that they would preach boldly!

Let’s explore what it really means to put on the full armor of God.

Truth can simply be defined as the real facts about something.  Surprisingly the world today proposes that truth is relative when it comes to God or how we live… “True for you but not for me”, etc. This is no more accurate than saying “If I do not believe in gravity, I will not fall off a ladder.” Gravity is true whether or not I believe in or accept it. God lovingly and in great detail shares truth in the Bible and reveals it in the world around us. There is absolute truth.

Righteousness is characterized by living consistently with God’s standards of morality, justice, virtue, etc. As God’s standard is Himself, it is a lofty bar. We will never achieve it to perfection but He is the standard and reference point none the less. We should keep our eyes on Jesus and seek help from the Holy Spirit to keep changing to be more like Him.

The peace that comes from knowing the good news is not a promise that we will avoid conflicts and trials, but rather an affirmation that when we have relationship with Jesus Christ we know He is with us in this life and that we have eternal life on the other side of this world. We can have peace through the mightiest storms.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1. In this context Paul reminds us that we must trust in God even when we are under attack by Satan. Just because we can not recognize how God is working in the situation does not mean that He is not there. We can be confident He is with us.

Salvation is deliverance from sin and its consequences, which is death. It is not enough to know or acknowledge Jesus Christ. Even Satan and his demons due that. By asking and accepting Jesus into our  lives and repenting from our sinful ways we receive salvation through grace.

The sword of the spirit, or word of God, is what Jesus Himself used to defeat Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11. We must know the word of God before the attack comes just as a soldier must train and be prepared before he goes to battle.

To be effective we must understand and use all of this equipment daily. It ceases to become “something we do” and becomes “how we do everything” in our lives.

Remember to heed Paul’s warning and guidance for prayer. The battle is not ours alone, but the Lord’s!

18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Thankfulness and Prayer For One Another

Colossians 1 contains a beautiful prayer that I would encourage us to pray for one another and for ourselves. There is no “magic” word or prayer, but this is a good example of a perspective of one believer who is close to YHWH having insight in how to pray for others who love YHWH also. It is not about the specific words, but rather the ideas behind them that help us focus on what is important.

Colossians 1:1-12

Thankfulness for Spiritual Attainments

     1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

      2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

      3We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; 7just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

      9For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

Shalom (a Hebrew greeting or salutation meaning “peace”)

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

A Prayer For The LORD’s Help

A prayer does not need to be long or fancy to bring us humbly before our Lord and for him to hear us. Sometimes simple prayers are helpful and less intimidating to bring before him. The attitude in prayer, of thanksgiving and humility and trust, matters.

Psalm 123

Prayer for the LORD’S Help.

A Song of Ascents.

      1To You I lift up my eyes,
O You who are enthroned in the heavens!

      2Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the LORD our God,
Until He is gracious to us.

      3Be gracious to us, O LORD, be gracious to us,
For we are greatly filled with contempt.

      4Our soul is greatly filled
With the scoffing of those who are at ease,
And with the contempt of the proud.

Arise, O Lord!

We live in a fallen world. It is filled with sin and rebellion against God. There will be many times when we need help and deliverance from our heavenly Father. Let us turn to Him wholeheartedly and call out for His help. He is sufficient to handle any situation, no matter how dire it seems.

However, we should also take note… David highlights some important concepts to expecting God to answer our prayers. He has a just cause and he has dedicated himself to God and living according to God’s ways. David also expresses confidence… faith in the Lord as his deliverer. He even concludes indicating he is satisfied or content with the Lord, who has not yet addressed the prayer request. We should not necessarily expect God to answer our prayers if we live in disobedience and rebellion to Him… at least not until we genuinely and wholeheartedly repent from that rebellion and submit to Him.

Psalm 17

Prayer for Protection against Oppressors.

A Prayer of David.

1Hear a just cause, O LORD, give heed to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer, which is not from deceitful lips.

2Let my judgment come forth from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look with equity.

3You have tried my heart;
You have visited me by night;
You have tested me and You find nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.

4As for the deeds of men, by the word of Your lips
I have kept from the paths of the violent.

5My steps have held fast to Your paths.
My feet have not slipped.

6I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God;
Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech.

7Wondrously show Your lovingkindness,
O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand
From those who rise up against them.

8Keep me as the apple of the eye;
Hide me in the shadow of Your wings

9From the wicked who despoil me,
My deadly enemies who surround me.

10They have closed their unfeeling heart,
With their mouth they speak proudly.

11They have now surrounded us in our steps;
They set their eyes to cast us down to the ground.

12He is like a lion that is eager to tear,
And as a young lion lurking in hiding places.

13Arise, O LORD, confront him, bring him low;
Deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword,

14From men with Your hand, O LORD,
From men of the world, whose portion is in this life,
And whose belly You fill with Your treasure;
They are satisfied with children,
And leave their abundance to their babes.

15As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness;
I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.